MLS has gone from contraction to 10 teams to expanding to 23 teams (and likely 24) in a matter of just 12 years time. Helping in that growth will be the Atlanta MLS franchise, who were announced as the 23rd team earlier this year and will begin play in 2017.
That means the franchise is a full three seasons away from participating on the field, yet the ownership group led by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank have done what few expected so quickly — secure a ton of season ticket deposits.
According to a report on the future club’s website, Blank told a breakfast meeting put on by Atlanta Magazine that over 14,000 season ticket deposits have already come in.
That’s 14,000 season ticket deposits for the “Founders Club” without a team name, colors or even a completed stadium in the mix. Atlanta’s soccer franchise also doesn’t even have a manager or any players in the fold, yet this response shouldn’t be surprising.
Atlanta has an NASL franchise that is drawing significant numbers, averaging almost 4,000 people for a side playing in the second division of American professional soccer. It’s attendance numbers are all without the backing and marketing structure that Blank can provide.
Beyond that, there has been a significant ground swell of organic supporters groups surrounding an MLS expansion franchise.
Pro Soccer Talk also put the 14,000 number in to stark perspective. According to their research, Atlanta’s season ticket total to date ranks them pretty high on the MLS pecking order as of late.
Here is the list Pro Soccer Talk have put together for season ticket sales of expansion franchises in their first seasons:
Seattle Sounders FC – 32,000 (2010)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 15,500-16,500 (2011)
Toronto FC – 16,000 (2011)
Portland Timbers FC – 14,750 (2012)
Philadelphia Union – 12,000-13,000 (2011)
Sporting Kansas City – 11,000 (2011)
Real Salt Lake – 7,000-8,000 (2011)
Montreal Impact – 5,000+ (2012)